Fourteen

Q. In Jesus’ genealogy in Mt 1:17 there were 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the deportation to Babylon, and 14 from the deportation to the Messiah. What is the significance of “fourteen” in the Bible?

A. The number fourteen or fourteenth appears 44 times in the NASB. I’ve read authors who are into numerology or gematria proposing fanciful meanings for the number. Just think of the many permutations and combinations of smaller numbers you can put together to equal 14, and you can see how the imagination can run wild very quickly. So I shall restrict myself to biblical citations, and have classified the 44 references as grouped in the Appendix.

The frequency of the references is as follows:
1. Passover 12 X
2. Feast of Tabernacles 9 X
3. Purim 5 X
4. Victory/Defeat 4 X
5. Turning Point 4 X
6. Service 4 X
7. Inheritance 2 X
8. Unclassified 4 X

Passover is the feast instituted the night before God delivered His people from Egyptian slavery. The Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering celebrated the final harvest of olives and fruits and also the start of the civil new year. Many scholars believe it to be symbolic of the Second Coming of Christ, the final ingathering of God’s people. Purim is the feast commemorating the deliverance of the Jews by Esther from a massacre plotted by Haman. All three (26 out of 44 X or 59%) are related to the idea of deliverance and salvation.

The second major idea is that of turning point. There were 4 references to 3 battles which meant victory to the conquerors, but defeat for the captives, a turning point. These are followed by 4 references to turning points of 14 generations, days or years. Altogether 8 out of 44 times or 18% are related to turning points. A third minor idea is that of service or order of ministry, 4 out of 44 X or 9%.

If you are interested in numerology you can search online. I am a historical-grammatical-cultural type and did not spend much time in this topic.

Appendix: Fourteen in the Bible

Child’s Faith

Q. Since I was a child, I have always believed in John 3:16 but had no concept of Eph 1:4-7 or 2 Co 5:21. All I knew was that Yahweh is the only true god instead of Buddha. Was I saved as a gentile child?

A. Only God who knows your heart, then and now, can answer your question. However, I can offer a few comments:

1. Being saved depends on your relationship with God, not how much you know:
Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
• Jn 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
• Jn 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
• 1 Jn 5:11-13 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Note that John’s consistent testimony is that:
• Eternal life is in the Son
• Has the Son = Has life
• Does not have the Son = Does not have life.
How do you have the Son? By believing in Him.
What does believe mean? Not intellectual assent, but:
• Trusting that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God or God the Son;
• Obeying the Son to demonstrate that the trust is genuine.
John said nothing about head knowledge, how much theology you know. It’s all about trust, as a child trusts in his/her parents, and depends totally on them for everything. It is a matter of the heart. I’ve heard lectures and read books by unbelieving “theology professors” with several doctorates, but I don’t think they are saved. Now whether you have the simple, complete, faith of a child, only God knows and you know.

2. You quoted Eph 1:4-7 and 2 Co 5:21, both deep truths penned by Paul:
Eph 1:4-7 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
• 2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Eph 1:4-7 teaches:
1. Election (He chose),
2. Sanctification (holy),
3. Perfection (blameless),
4. Predestination,
5. Adoption,
6. God’s will,
7. Free grace,
8. Redemption,
9. Forgiveness, while
2 Co 5:21 teaches:
10. Jesus as perfect Man (no sin),
11. Substitutionary atonement (to be sin on our behalf),
12. Imputation (righteousness of God).

I doubt any new Christian would have a full grasp of these dozen subjects, yet they are saved the moment they placed their trust in Christ alone and commit to follow Him. Christ gave them the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). I do not mean to belittle theology, but it’s the heart that counts, not the head.

God’s Calling

God's call 18

Q. What does the Bible say about God’s calling? Does God call us to do specific things? If yes, where does our freedom to choose come in?

A. The Bible has a lot to say about our calling, with respect to both our salvation and service.

Regarding salvation:
1 Co 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, …
• 2 Tim 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace …

And concerning service:
“the word of the LORD came” to His prophets e.g. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Haggai, Zechariah etc.
• Acts 13:2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

For service, the call could be specific, as in the examples cited above, or general e.g. the Great Commission (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15, Lk 24:47, Jn 20:21, Acts 1:8).

The calling does not depend on how good or bad we are, and is irrevocable, but those called are required to make certain about the calling, and live up to it:
1 Co 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
• Rom 11:29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
• 2 Pet 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
• Eph 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
• 2 Thes 1:11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power,

What happens to our freedom to choose? We still have it, within the limits God gave us:
Deut 1:26 Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God;
• Isa 30:15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing,
• Mt 23:37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

God gave us a choice and we can freely choose to obey or disobey. However, when we disobey we have to pay for the consequences of disobedience ourselves.

Worship Jesus but Not Saved!

good works religion

Q. What will happen to a person who worships Jesus as his God but fails to recognize the principle of salvation?

A. Your question applies to many Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, who worship Jesus as God, but have not placed their trust in Him alone as their Lord and Savior. There are also cults (e.g. Mormons) and religions (e.g. Hinduism) who worship Jesus as one god amongst many, not the one true God. Neither group believes in salvation by grace through faith.

What happens to them? They will present their case before God on the basis of their good works, which are never enough:
Rom 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;
• Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
• Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

I never knew you 1

They will be judged and found wanting:
Mt 7:22-23 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
• Mt 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
• Lk 13:27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’

These folks are especially pitiable because they think they are already saved when they are not. That’s why we have an urgency to share the gospel with all willing to listen.

God’s Will (2 of 3)

God's will 20

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we’ve explored the revealed will of God pertaining to His preceptive will and will of disposition, in particular concerning salvation. He does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. What else does the Bible tell us about His will?

* 1 Thes 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God wants us not only to be saved, but to be holy. He wants us to be pure. The basic meaning of holy is to be separated. Often we tend to follow the crowd, what the majority do. But God wants us not to walk as the Gentiles walk. Do not be like them. Do you follow the world, or do you separate yourself from their ways?

But what if we fail? Well, God provided for that too:

* 2 Co 7:9-10 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point ofrepentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

He made us sorrowful according to His will, so that we would repent and not suffer loss. Do not view only blessings as from God, for there is a purpose for sorrow as well.

And not only sorrow, but even suffering:

* 1 Pet 4:19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Paul said, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12)”. Peter added, when “you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed … but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name (1 Pet 1:14, 16)”. So, even suffering can be according to God’s will when we suffer for Christ’s sake to glorify His name.

One more God’s will for you. What should our attitude be in the midst of difficulties?

* 1 Thes 5:18 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

When we are saved, sanctified, sorrowful, suffering, we ought to be thankful. Not complaining “why me”, but grateful that God chose us as His worthy vessel to glorify Him. It’s the character of a Spirit-filled Christian. Now, are you thankful, or ungrateful?

(To be continued)